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I Am My Own Worst Enemy

This article is written in response to the type of clutter in games that's created when the player is given far too many advantages and powerful abilities over their environment and enemies. When the player mechanics don't have enough limitations, weaknesses, counters, or drawbacks the developers have to work even harder to create challenges. Geometry Wars floods the screen with enemies. DMC4 features a style meter that challenges and encourages players to mix things up because it's cool to use a wide range of moves (or so they tell me). 

For games with a more conservative design concerning player power, I've always said that a good stress test gauging the balance of power for the player character is to pit the player against an enemy with the same abilities the player has. The theory is, if you can defeat yourself, then you're not too powerful. Another way to look at it is if fighting an enemy like yourself is engaging and it doesn't result in a stalemate then the core design holds up. This test mainly applies to single player games for the obvious reason that multiplayer games generally have player versus player gameplay at the core of their design where each player has similar abilities or access to the same characters.

Here's a quick list of enemies that have many of the same abilities as the main player character.


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Reader Comments (2)

I've found such enemies to be the best challenges, and arguably the best parts of their given games. The longai-O's are just so very challenging when compared to the other enemies in Bangai-O. My only complaint is that their EX is infinite. I wonder what would have happened it was possible to exhaust the Longai-O's? would it necessitate some new AI for them? As I understand it, the only EX when hit by your missiles, or when you Thoughts?

November 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPi

These enemies have definitely been some of the most memorable and challenging moments in my experience.

As for the Longai-O's, every time I see one I think to myself "it's on now!" It's like seeing your rival on the tracks in F-Zero. If you're brash enough to try an ignore them, you'll probably be dead soon. Their extreme power demands attention, which makes them so fun to fight.

I too have wondered how different Longai-O would be if they didn't have infinite EX. As it is now, all of Bangai-O enemies are pretty predictable and straightforward which helps keep things manageable in what would otherwise be pure chaos. Longai-O would have to have a few AI patterns to switch between similar to the long range enemies in Neo*PRG. I also suspect that once out of EX, they would be pushovers. For these reasons, I'm sure their current design is the best compromise.

And I thought they EX whenever you shoot anything at them.

Good comment.


November 13, 2008 | Registered CommenterRichard Terrell (KirbyKid)

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